That the Taj Mahal has been built with white marble is a fact we all know. We are also aware of the legend that Shah Jahan planned to construct another Taj in black marble across River Yamuna. But we are not here to discuss history but the stone which became a part of history ie history of love – marble. You will surely agree that we know of only two colours in marbles – black and white.
It is when you are introduced to hundreds and hundreds of different coloured marble – browns, reds, blues, purples, beiges, greens, greys and golden – that you realise of what you had missed all these years. Not only are these in different colours, they have some beautiful, in fact, out-of-the-world patterns and designs, as if a Van Gogh or a Leonardo da Vinci spent hours on creating these master artworks. For a moment, you think of not being at a warehouse but an art gallery.
Here I am — at the 200,000 sq ft warehouse of A-Class Marble India Pvt Ltd, around 6 km from Qutub Minar Metro Station in New Delhi. What brings me here? Well, an architect friend wanted to explore the marble varieties and he tagged me along. Here we meet Preksha Bhandari, one of the directors, who offers to take us on a tour of the warehouse. On way, she has us know that the company happens to be one of the largest importers of elusive marble in India.
“We offer one of the largest arrays of rare stones with the collection comprising more than 450 varieties of marble, stone, granite and other architectural surfaces imported under the sole agreement with many quarries and brands from Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal, France, Iran, Turkey, Vietnam, China, and other geographies across the world,” says Preksha as we walk down to what I prefer calling – An Artist’s Dreamhouse. There is so much to actually drool over and fall in love with that you think “why did Shah Jahan have to make an all-white Taj when he could have had chosen from these wonderful art pieces to create perhaps something more unique, may be something more beautiful.”
Before she raises the curtains from the masterpieces, Preksha delves into a bit of history of the organisation. “It was Roopchandji Bhandari who started his quest in the Indian marble industry in 1971 and laid the foundation of a dream that later became the guiding force for the entire A-Class Marble group. His son, Raichand Bhandari, took the vision forward and carved a niche for the group with utmost passion, perseverance and perfection. During the last almost five decades, he became a name to reckon with the finest and most exquisite marble in the world of architecture,” she says. With rising opulence and changing lifestyle of Indian elite, he added new dimensions to the business and continued the legacy along with his sons, Rajesh and Ramesh. Incidentally, Preksha, herself a NIFT graduate, is married to Rajesh.
“In 2005, A-Class Marble India Pvt Ltd was established in New Delhi and we have been identifying, sourcing and bringing the marvels of Nature from world’s best quarries across the globe to India,” she shares. A-Class Marble has a clientele which reads like a who’s who of celebs — MS Dhoni, Gautam Gambhir, Naveen Jindal, Le Meridien, Westin, The Leela Kempinski, The Umrao, PVR, Pullman, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts, DLF, Kingdom of Dreams among many more.
Preksha is accompanied by sales manager Kapil Bali who introduces us to 1st Tile, Fiandre and Fuoriformato from the Surfaces range and Pristine, Signature and Exotica, among others from the marble collection. “Our vision is to bring the world’s most magnificent marble collection to India,” he says.
And where is the company’s production unit, my architect friend enquires? “We have a state-of-the-art production unit spread over 5,00,000 sq ft along with a showroom in Kishangarh (Rajasthan) which happens to be Asia’s biggest marble market. The facilities include ultra-modern Italian machineries and a strong team of 350 highly trained professionals. Not this alone, we have a one-of-its-kind smart showroom A-Class Atelier with a lounge concept in Ahmedabad,” he puts in.
As we wind our way through the warehouse and admire each and every marble slab, I feel it for my architect friend for it is quite a tough task selecting and finalising from one, two, three or even 10 from such a vast collection. For me, all were out-of-the-world masterpieces; simply A-Class masterpieces.